In the seventh episode of 'Metal Evolution' Sam Dunn explores the world of grunge rock by discussing with musicians,producers and other people involved in this type of music to determine whether his decision to include it in the heavy metal family tree was justified.
Sam Dunn's fascinating exploration of the histoy of heavy metal and the genres related to it takes him to Seattle,the heart of the grunge movement,a city who was the center of rock music in the first part of the nineties thanks to the four giants of grunge;Nirvana,Pearl Jam,Soundgarden and Alice In Chains,but also to manyother bands who contributed to the meteoric rise of grunge as the most popular style of rock music 20 years ago.Sam Dunn tries to establish the connections between grunge and heavy metal by asking for opinions from musicians belonging to several other bands,such as The Melvins,Tad or Hole,and the answers regarding the links between metal and grunge differ considerably from one person to another.
We find out from these interviews that,while most bands consider that the attitude of punk combined with hard rock was the key element in the shaping of the distinctive sound of grunge,metal also had a big influence on a part of the Seattle bands,and those influences can easily be traced in the music of Tad,Soundgarden and especially Alice In Chains,the most metallic of the grunge bands.While many Seattle musicians in the 80s disliked heavy metal because they associated with the superficiality and excesses of glam metal,which was the big thing in rock at that time,there were also musicians who appreciated the music of early hard rock bands and British heavy metal bands and integrated elements from metal,which combined with punk led to a new and fresh sound and a more direct appearance compared to the flamboyant style of glam,and also to a more sensitive approach than traditional heavy metal.All these new and original elements led to the sudden rise of popularity of grunge in the early nineties,when albums like Nirvana's 'Nevermind' and Pearl Jam's 'Ten' suddenly brought the genre to the mainstream and a fame that grunge musicians hadn't expected.
One of the defining moments in the evolution of grunge isconsidered to be the 'Clash of the Titans' tour,in which Alice In Chains opened for thrash giants like Slayer or Megadeth.Many of the die hard metal fans who were confused of seeing the live performance of a band who sounded so different from their idols,but still had metal elements,would embrace this new style and contribute to the huge popularity the new style achieved in such a short time.However,Kurt Cobain's suicide in 1994,which shocked the world,also had a huge impact on a musical genre that had already reached its peak and was beginning to fall.Soundgarden also broke up a few years later,while Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains were no longer active,and the grunge madness was over as fast as it began.
In the latter part of the episode Sam Dunn analyses the so-called 'post grunge' movement ,which is illustrated by the band Creed,which took elements from grunge and made it more melodic and easy to digest to mainstream audience.Creed and many other bands who took that approach in the late nineties are perceived by original grunge musicians as pale copies or even impostors;there is an exception which is represented by Nickelback,a band appreciated by Jerry Cantrell from Alice In Chains for its originality.
However,grunge is not dead yet;three of its major representatives,Soundgarden,Pearl Jam and Alice In Chains,are back in action and ready to make new music,and even if it differs from metal in many respects,it also shares some common features.There are some bands who can definitely be considered metal as well,and for this reason I think Sam Dunn's inclusion of grunge in the heavy metal family tree is completely justified.